Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Why is this Obama's moment?

When I went to bed last night I pondered this.

Why couldn't it have been Shirley Chisolm, Jesse Jackson, Alan Keyes, Al Sharpton, or even Carol Moseley Braun?

To be sure Shirley Chisolm isn't the first Black person to run for President. Whoever that first person was is probably a bit more obscure. We'd have to actually look to find that answer to that trivia question.

But yeah what made Obama different than those other individuals? Could his election have happened four years ago, eight, 12, 16, 20, 40, 60 years ago?

One main reason this couldn't have happened so many years ago is because perhaps America wouldn't be very willing to election a person who isn't a WASP as President. Of course not all of our Presidents are WASPs as we've had Presidents of Dutch or German descent in addition to an Irish Catholic.

To be sure John F. Kennedy followed the historic candidacy of Al Smith who himself was a Catholic who ran for President back in 1928. The question could go for President Kennedy as well, could he have been elected back in 1928 instead of 1960?

I can accept that America wasn't ready for a Catholic or a Black President. I can accept that people had their prejudicial views of those groups and others as well.

I can also accept that the stars was lined up in Obama's favor. An opposing candidate who largely faltered, Obama's charisma that enable people to have confidence in him. Even if he may not have had any experience as far as running any government or organization. He had something that drew people to him.

Either way I can only theorize as to why he's getting his moment in history while all the other individuals mentioned herein aren't. I should add those other individuals well, they've had qualities that I do admire and some of them, well, don't have qualities that wouldn't give me confidence in their governance.

All the same, I look forward to seeing these next four years. Uncertainty didn't allow me to cast a ballot for President Obama. Hopefully the Obama presidency will be a memorable one not for its historical significance, but for what he does during this period of time!


Will said...

I think all the reasons you gave are valid ones. One challenge for many black candidates is to convince white voters that they'll represent everyone and not focus solely on African-American or urban issues. Obama is particularly attentive and skillful at doing that.

Jen said...

Believe it or not, Jazz great Dizzy Gillespie was the first African American to run for President in 1964.

Yeah, I didn't know that either. I thought it was Shirley Chisholm, but she ran in 1972.

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